𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 - this week: Tea Leaves - Steve Schultheis
Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
𝙏𝙚𝙖 𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙨 - 𝙎𝙩𝙚𝙫𝙚 𝙎𝙘𝙝𝙪𝙡𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙨
Charles sits down with a nice cuppa, and attempts to tell your fortune.
I drink one cup of coffee a day. I say ‘drink’, but it is more like a ritual. In fact, it is the closest I come to religion. I will never have more than one cup, but I would certainly not even try to attempt a day’s life without that one. Call it habit, routine, addiction, compulsion, it’s just what I do, and it does no harm. Tea however, is a completely different kettle of water. It is something that I enjoy several times a week, with not a hint of schedule. It rarely ever occurs to me but is suggested as an option by my girlfriend, and I usually take her up on the idea. Tea is a great comfort. A simple pleasure. A pastime and an English institution. So why not! And so go the leaves into the shiny sprung infuser, or actually this time loosely tossed into the floral teapot. There are always far more saucers in the cupboard than cups - this is just how it is. Perhaps saucers are more resilient than the elegant slender handle of the receptacle. The teapot is to be filled with boiling water. It must be ferociously bubbling. I wait at least 4 minutes for the brew to brew, pour, et voilà. Actually, I dunk a teabag in a mug for less than a minute, slug in a spoon of brown sugar - yes, brown - and slosh in some milk for completion. But let’s just pretend we’re civilised, for now.
As I gaze over the peaceful sunset, I finish my last sip and look down at the cup. A pattern has emerged at its base. Is it Africa? No no, it’s more like North America. The East side. It’s as if New York were actually visible. Is that Nantucket…? I give the cup a nudge - admittedly by accident (the ratio of saucers to cups nearly widened). The edges of America fall away, like a vast avalanche (if this were to be a voodoo cup). We seem to be left with nothing but Massachusetts. I ferret through nooks and also crannies to find my book about reading tea leaves. Then I remember I don’t own one. The modern way is called for: Uncle Google. I am apparently going on a long journey, to Massachusetts. Makes sense! Out of curiosity I look up what it means if there are barely any tea leaves left. I apparently drink like a pig and am on the road to nowhere. Huh! Well that’s the last time I ask Uncle Google anything - probably not true.
Let us take this long journey together to visit a man by the name of Steve Schultheis. I have no idea about the phonetics of this name, so I shall assume it is pronounced Shulteez. His brand new album - Back to the Beginning - was released just weeks ago. Its first track was what caught my attention: Tea Leaves. We start with the sweetest isolated vocals, reminiscent of the isolated vocals of ‘Because’ by The Beatles (which can be found on their ‘Love’ album). Unlike ‘Because’, it is bright and positive in its major key, with a satisfying harmony that envelopes with a cosy warmth, much like that first sip. Thirty seconds in, the singers depart and close the door. The red and yellow lights swing upwards on a motorised swing-arm, and the band strikes up! Heavy, thick, treacly country-blues resonates with slide guitar and an edge that was not there before. The minor key winks like the devil himself (or herself). As the band softens and soothes the tone, here comes Steve (probably pronounced Steev) with an ambiguous melody that is neither major nor minor. Considering the words of the song, this is a very clever device indeed! Who knows if our future is to be one of gold or of mud… It is the sweet 6th of the scale that gives us hope from the dark - that same “6th” that George throws us on the last ‘Yeah’ of She Loves You (by the Muddy Prunes). Enough of the technical speak. Steve has the most remarkable knack for writing his melodies like an American McCartney. One week I will try not to mention The Beatles - just one week. McCartney has never been a stranger to American music and its twang, but this is somehow more genuine, as I suppose it would be. And I don’t mean Beatle McCartney, I mean McCartney 90s to now. More of a country/folk element. Less bold yet more honest.
The depth of the band sweeps us back from time to time in between verses. The halfway point brings the choir back from its much earned tea break. The singers harmonise with Steve to perfection - like an owgan! In fact, there is an owgan present underneath this beautiful ‘Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’ section. The band gets impatient and storms back with the bash of a drum. The whole scene is sticky and warm, but still retaining that essential sunshine. The quality of the production and mixing in this song just simply could not be surpassed - it is sublime. I gather Steve has a team of wonder people so he can finally achieve the sound that was in his head. He is a fan of working with people, in order to make a good thing better. Which is really what’s it’s all about: to make the greatest music we possibly can, so that the world can enjoy it!
One lump or two? Who cares?? It’s what we’re left with at the end that matters.
Listen to 𝙏𝙚𝙖 𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙨 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Spotify playlist HERE!
Listen to 𝙏𝙚𝙖 𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙨 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Apple Music playlist HERE!
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